Chris Mercier Builds Outside the Box
Build it and they will come? Not causal enough for Chris Mercier. Architect and Founder of (fer) studio in Inglewood, CA, Chris takes a “multi-purposeful” approach to architecture. One that’s downright sensible, yet visionary.
What would you expect from someone who has worked alongside the likes of Frank Gehry and Daniel Libeskind? And, on some of the industry’s most respected projects, including the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, and the reconstruction of the World Trade Center in Manhattan.
The name, (fer) deftly describes Chris’ mission, and the value he assigns to holistic thinking. (fer) stands for form, environment, and research. These three elements serve as guiding response mechanisms, from discovery stages and throughout the design process. They give deference to environmental conditions, and historic and social contexts, while factoring clients’ needs and desires. Architecture and surroundings are fluid, each a space of the other. This is also Chris’ blueprint for the reformation of entire communities.
Transformation from the inside out.
Case in point. With the highly anticipated arrival of professional football and the light rail, Inglewood has two timely reasons to rethink everything. In collaboration with the city, (fer) (a long time friend of the community and cheerleader for its revitalization), is positioned to show how urban renewal with an intentionally organic strategy can bring fresh, thoughtful and sustainable dimension to live / work and retail. Going back to form, environment, and research, an important component for success is first understanding the city internally, how it is operating, and its urban condition.
'It’s a bird’s eye view analysis, a street analysis, a taking the pulse of the environment, how the city is evolving, and answering the call. A response to the urban fabric and helping it grow.'
Making Local Vocal
We all know the power of personality, of being our authentic selves. How does that translate to the revitalization of communities? Consider for example, retail. Its “standard fare” can’t possibly channel the flavors curated by those who know the neighborhood best. Chris Mercier understands this energy and advises, look no further than local. He says that developing such a regional persona requires bringing it to the attention of zoning, and the city. It means making space for local businesses and artisans. And Chris is a true advocate for their integration. He has been influential in the creation of codes and zoning which place new emphasis on the increased foot traffic the light rail will bring. Ditto for the development of projects in and around the new stadium.
Midcentury Modern - Back to the Future, Call to the Great Outdoors
Chris carries his philosophy forward when it comes to contemporary architecture’s connection to mid century modern style. Blur the lines between a structure and its setting, blend them as a whole, and you have far more than just a building on a site. He expresses that the resurgence in mid century modern restoration and design, speaks to our desire to engage with an exterior condition. Though MCM is grounded in the early modernism of the International Style, the idea of incorporating the outdoors is an element which gained prominence from the 1950’s to the 1970’s. Thinking literally outside the box, Chris notes “if you only engage with the interior, you’re limited to square footage, but if you engage the exterior, the whole footprint of the house changes.” He points to the inside outside relationship so characteristic of Richard Neutra’s designs, and the same quality imbued by (fer): creating that subtlety where the perimeter begins to erode, and exterior rooms occur.
Listen to the complete interview here.
Photo Source: (fer) studio, JW Pictures